Tzav 5770 – For Love of God and Man

Tony Robinson pointed out some interesting facts about the five sacrifices detailed in the first two Torah portions of Leviticus. The text seems needlessly repetitious, but there is a purpose. In Vayikra, God instructs the Israelites how to make offerings in order to draw closer to him. In Tzav, he instructs the priests on how to dispose of those offerings. But there’s more to it than just that. If you read carefully, you’ll notice that the sacrifices are listed in a slightly different order in each place. As Robinson shows, the offerings are grouped according to an inexplicit classification.

In Vayikra the first three offerings (burnt, grain, and peace) are voluntary, while the last two (sin and guilt) are not. In Tzav, the first offering is completely burned up, the next three are partly burned and partly consumed by the priest, and the final offering is partly burned, partly eaten by the priest, and mostly eaten by the offerer and his community.

Although I don’t know exactly what to make of the following correlations, I think they are correct.

Five is the number of Torah, and there are five sacrifices. The purpose of both Torah and the sacrifices is to draw us closer to YHWH. (See Vayikra 5770 – Approaching under Cover.)

  • The burnt offering is something wholly given to God, and there are commandments in the Torah which are designed to bring us closer to God the Father.
  • The grain, sin, and guilt offerings are partly given to God and partly to the priest. There are many mitzvot throughout the Torah that draw us closer to God while foreshadowing the ministry of the Messiah as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (There is something else here about Moses and the order of Melchizedek, but I’ll save it for another time.)
  • The peace offering, like many mitzvot concerning how to live at peace with one’s neighbors, is designed to draw us closer to God as a community, to make us a united people under the banner of the Messiah.

I believe the order in Vayikra says something about another layer of classification that can be overlaid on the Torah, but I will save that for another day too. Vayikra 5771 perhaps.

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